“If we could get time with Caitlin Moran, what would you like to do?” my editor asked.
Aside from asking her the secrets of the universe or what it feels like to kick-start a whole new generation of feminists, I thought we should get her to hang out with a bunch of school kids.
Why? Well, her new book, Moranifesto, is a collection of writing on how she wants to change the world. As the best ideas are often the simplest, I wanted to know if she could explain her ideas to fidgety 10-year-olds. (Long story short: she could.)
And so we enlisted the help of 21 nine- and 10-year-olds from All Souls Primary, a state school in central London. The kids were excited but I think the teachers might have been even more so. A few slipped in when the filming began; a few after, big grins, nervous laughter. When Caitlin offered to sign a book, it was decided the only thing to avoid the staff room turning into a war zone was to sign the book to the whole school.
And then something magical happened. “Never work with children or animals” the famous saying goes but I think it was one of my favourite-ever shoots. The kids came in, delighted to see Caitlin, they looked curiously at the cameraman with his boom, at the cameras dotted around the room, at the strangers peering at them. They giggled quietly with one another. They perched on the edge of their seats to get a better view. Big glasses sat on little noses, feet shuffled, beady eyes scanned.
Next the questions came – from how we stop animals becoming extinct to Caitlin’s favourite colour, from if we should leave the EU and join America (novel thinking) to the refugee crisis (a lot of the impressive geopolitics analysis came from one boy Caitlin nicknamed “little Dimbleby”), from questions about writing books to reading books, never was there a shortage of tiny hands in the air.
Can we change the world? After an hour with Caitlin Moran and the kids of All Souls primary school, pretty much anything felt possible. The kids had missed maths, I’d missed a deadline – it was the start of a mini-revolution on tiny plastic chairs led by one of Britain’s most important feminist thinkers.
This video probably won’t change the world, but I think it might change your day (a fitting way to start International Women’s Day). Because what happens when you put Caitlin Moran in a room full of school kids? A shedload of hilarity, humanity and hope, that's what.
A big thank you to Jo and all the staff and children at All Souls Primary School.
The full cut will be on The Pool on Saturday evening.